Monday, September 23, 2013

Small Town Coffee Revival

Yesterday, we conducted our first free coffee workshop of the year with special guest barista, Lanz Mirondo from Singapore. 

 Kimmy Baraoidan, one of our coffee junkie participants, blogged about her experience during the workshop:

Lanz Mirondo’s Barista Workshop

Today I went to a free coffee workshop facilitated by coffee connoisseur and professional barista Lanz Mirondo at Cafe Antonio. Despite the heavy rains brought about by typhoon Odette, attendance was quite good. At the start of the workshop, the participants were each asked to share their expectations. Most of us expected to taste different kinds of coffee and to widen our coffee palate. But we got much, much more than that.
Lanz Mirondo explaining the mechanics of the cupping (taste test).
Lanz Mirondo explaining the mechanics of the cupping (taste test).
The first activity was cupping or taste test. For this activity, Lanz brought six kinds of coffee for us to taste: 1) Brazilian San Antonio, 2) Tobing Estate (Indonesia), 3) El Salvador, Nevada, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, 4) Dark Horse, 5) Crompton Road, and 6) Don Pepe, Panama. There are five things to keep in mind when evaluating coffee: aroma, body, flavor, acidity, and finish. Aroma is the smell of coffee beans or grounds. Fragrance is the smell of coffee mixed with water. Body is the coffee’s viscosity (is it light or dense?). Flavor is what the coffee tastes like. Acidity is the degree of sourness. Finish (short or long) is the lack or presence of an aftertaste.
Some of the coffee blends we tasted at the workshop.
Some of the coffee blends we tasted at the workshop.
First we smelled the ground coffee, then smelled the coffee after being mixed with hot water, then tasted the coffee. Tasting coffee is very much similar to tasting wine. One has to slurp it, not just sip it. The louder, the better. Slurping ensures maximum distribution to the tongue’s taste buds because it sprays the coffee to the back of the tongue. After swirling the hot liquid in your mouth, you can either swallow it or spit it. In my case, I spat the coffee out because I get palpitations if I drink too much coffee in a day. It is important to drink water in between tastes in order to cleanse the palate. To our untrained noses and tongues, at first, the coffee blends all seemed to smell and taste the same. But as we went around the table several times, we were able to distinguish the nuances of each blend.
Workshop participants smelling the coffee grounds and taking down notes.
Workshop participants smelling the coffee grounds and taking down notes.
We were also required to take notes while smelling and tasting. We had to describe what we smelled and tasted as accurately as we could. One good point raised by Lanz and by Jabez (Cafe Antonio’s senior barista) is that each of us would have different descriptions of the smell and taste. It would depend on our life experiences and on our exposure to different kinds of food and drink. True enough, when we were asked to share our notes, each person used different words to describe the smell and taste. I’m a photographer and I think visually most of the time. In my notes, I had put “yellow” and “bright” to describe the tastes of two different coffee blends. It was also apparent what type of coffee each of us liked based on our favorites. Mine are Dark Horse and Crompton Road (the much stronger ones).
Next, Lanz and Jabez demonstrated three types of coffee preparations: French press, drip, and AeroPress. They only used one type of coffee blend and made us taste the coffee that went through the different types of preparations. Each preparation method produced a different taste. The French press produced a stronger and bolder taste and a denser liquid. The drip produced a lighter liquid and a milder taste. It brought out the sweetness of the blend. The AeroPress is a recent innovation which combines the French press and drip methods. The taste is a middle ground brought by the fusion of the two methods. For me, I prefer the French press because I really like my coffee strong.
Left: French press Right: drip method
Left: French press; right: drip method
Left: coffee made using the French press; right: coffee made using the drop method.
Left: coffee made using the French press; right: coffee made using the drip method.
The AeroPress method.
The AeroPress method.
Lanz then opened the floor for questions and comments from the participants. We were all impressed by his refined palate and knowledge about not only coffee making but about the coffee industry as well. He shared his experience working as a barista in Singapore and the rather funny encounters he had with non-Filipino customers. He then proceeded to make some coffee at Cafe Antonio’s espresso machine, and we all watched him work his magic. He continued to entertain questions and to tell stories while making coffee like a boss. This guy is brimming with wisdom and experience – a true coffee guru.
Lanz working the espresso machine.
Lanz grinding coffee.
There is so much more that I took away from the workshop. I engaged Lanz in a more in-depth conversation, which I will make into another story soon. All I can say for now is that good, old hard work, an open mind, a can-do attitude, and an unquenchable thirst for learning are keys to Lanz’s success.
(More photos of the workshop here.)


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